Maracatu is traditional Afro-Brazilian music performed during Carnival that arose as part of the Candomblé religionwhen in colonial days when Brazilian Congolese slaves paraded to honor the “Kings of Congo,” slaves who had attained a symbolic position of symbolic leadership among the population. In traditional performance, cross-dressed males in blackface make-up portray Afrrican and Afro-Brazilian women.
The musical ensemble consists of alfaia (a large wooden rope-tuned drum), gonguê (a metal cowbell), tarol (a shallow snare drum), caixa-de-guerra, (or “war-snare”), agbê (a gourd shaker enveloped in beads), and mineiro (a metal cylindrical shaker filled with metal shot or small dried seeds). Song form is call and response between a solo singer and (usually) a female chorus.
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